Rye discusses water contamination concerns

The presentation focused on informing residents on the potential impact perfluorinated chemicals (PFC) runoff from the Grove Road landfill has on water district-owned wells.
According to Musselman, when the landfill was closed, a large, 30-foot-deep fire pond used to pump groundwater to put out the fires was filled in with solid waste.
“Backfilling (the fire pond) with solid waste was a terrible mistake,” said Musselman, who also serves as a selectman in Rye.
Musselman said based off a late 1990′s groundwater contour map, the general flow path flows down from the Grove Road landfill toward the Garland well.
“The ground water level is below the level of waste in the landfill in the 5.2 acre site, except for the fire pond, which went below the regional ground water level.
What happens is the waste in groundwater degrades rather quickly; it can form some impervious layers from anaerobic bacteria that form from the breakdown from the material in the solid waste.” Commissioner Arthur Ditto said Rye residents receive their water primarily from the water district but the northern end and the southern end of town receive their water from Portsmouth and an Aquarion Water Company well, respectively.
Within the water district, residents mostly rely on the Garland well, Bailey Brook well and the Cedar Run well, according to Ditto.
The water district owns the land the landfill is on and Ditto said the water has been tested monthly for PFCs since 2016.
The most traceable amounts of PFCs were found in the Garland well, with the highest hits of 11 ppt and 10 ppt for PFOS and PFOA respectively coming in July 2017, but still well under the EPA’s health advisory threshold.
“I don’t know if we really have fully characterized that yet, in terms of where things are flowing on what levels,” said Messmer, who has extensively researched the causes of pediatric cancer clusters in the Seacoast.

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